Residents who need help affording monthly rental payments may benefit from the Section 8 housing choice voucher program. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issues vouchers that state beneficiaries can use to find low income housing in Ohio.
Once residents find a landlord who accepts Section 8 housing vouchers, they will only be required to pay between 30 and 40 percent of their monthly income towards rent. The remaining portion of the rent will be paid by a local Public Housing Agency (PHA) with HUD housing funds. As such, this program allows low-income residents to remain in the private rental marketplace even if they cannot afford typical market rates.
Discover Ohio Section 8 Requirements
The Section 8 requirements in Ohio may vary by region. In order to qualify for this program, applicants must typically be part of a low-income household, elderly or have a disability. Moreover, the Section 8 income limits can vary depending on the local median average household income.
Overall, these vouchers are only issued to residents who earn less than 50 percent of the median average household income for an area. Therefore, places with a higher cost of living and higher average salaries will typically have higher income limits than areas with lower salaries and lower costs of living.
As an example, the maximum income for a family of three is $35,100 according to the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority. Alternatively, Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority sets the maximum household income for a family of three at $30,150. Furthermore, the Chillicothe Metropolitan Housing Authority lists the highest acceptable income for a family of three as $27,650.
In addition to meeting these Section 8 income limits, most PHAs also require applicants to successfully pass a background check. Applicants with previous drug charges, felony convictions or a history of eviction from the Section 8 program may not be accepted. Additionally, beneficiaries can be removed from the program if they are convicted of a felony or drug charge during their enrollment.
How to Apply for Section 8 Housing in Ohio
The process of submitting a Section 8 application in Ohio varies depending on the local PHA in your region. Many PHAs require you to submit a paper application form via mail, by fax or in person. Moreover, in certain instances, PHAs may only accept applications on certain days of the week.
In Ohio, certain PHAs only accept online applications. Through these agencies’ online portals, you may also be able to update your application.
Most Section 8 applications include income verification, a background check, previous landlord references, Social Security Numbers (SSNs) and birth certificates for every household member. This is done in order to ensure that no one with previous disqualifying convictions or evictions is accepted into the program.
It is important to keep in mind that you are not always able to submit a Section 8 housing application. Because demand far exceeds supply for housing choice vouchers in most areas, PHAs typically only accept applications for a few weeks at a time. After the PHA closes an enrollment period, it will sort through the applicants and place them on a list in order of priority. Then, the PHA will issue vouchers to those at the top of the list.
Understanding Section 8 Waiting Lists in Ohio
After you submit an application, you are placed on the Section 8 waiting list for your local PHA. However, most PHAs do not sort the waiting list by first-come, first-served. Instead, applicants are sorted in order of priority, which means that certain applicants may move up the list faster than others.
For instance, federal law stipulates that at least 75 percent of vouchers should go to residents with incomes that are lower than 30 percent of the median income for an area. The remaining 25 percent of HUD housing vouchers can go to families whose income is up to 50 percent of the median. Therefore, even if you qualify, you may have to wait longer than beneficiaries with income that is lower than yours.
Moreover, your placement on a Section 8 waiting list typically depends on your family makeup. For example, the Pickaway Metropolitan Housing Authority gives preference to veterans who apply for benefits. Alternatively, the Darke County Metropolitan Housing Authority gives preference to both veterans and homeless applicants. However, other counties in Ohio may prioritize victims of domestic violence, the elderly or families with young children.
In certain cases, you can check your Section 8 waiting list status online. However, some PHAs ask you not to contact them about your placement on the waiting list. Furthermore, because certain PHAs use a lottery system, your placement on the waiting list does not necessarily indicate when you will be contacted.
In any case, it is important to update your information on a regular basis after submitting your initial application. Anytime your household composition, income or address changes, you must update your information on record with the local PHA. This can help change or determine your eligibility and prioritization. Additionally, failing to update your address could result in being purged from the Section 8 waiting list.
Learn About Ohio Section 8 Housing Lists
After receiving a Section 8 voucher, you must find a landlord who will accept it. However, be mindful that not all landlords accept Section 8 vouchers, as some property owners are prejudiced against tenants enrolled in this program or do not want to deal with the additional inspections and regulations established by the HUD.
Finding an affordable home can be easy by searching through a Section 8 housing list. In many areas, you can find both official and unofficial lists that include units rented out by Section 8-friendly landlords. Your PHA may operate its own list of acceptable properties, but you can also find listings online. However, there may be high competition for these listings, or they may be out of date. Thus, it is important to reach out to a landlord as soon as possible to clarify if a unit is still available for rent.
In any case, be mindful that you are not limited to properties that are included on Section 8 listings. As such, you always have the option of reaching out to landlords independently and asking them to consider accepting you as a tenant. You can increase your chances of being accepted if you can pass a background check and provide favorable landlord references.